Clearwater County Highpoint Trip Report

Rhodes Peak (7,930 feet)

Date: August 18, 2008
Author: Adam Helman

This effort is part of a larger journey collecting Montana and Idaho county highpoints in August 2008.

Forest road FR569 starts near Logical MM (mile marker) 162 on US Route 12; in turn 12 miles from Lolo Pass at the Idaho/Montana boundary.

There are fully 27 dirt miles to the top of Blacklead Mountain starting from this point; much being narrow with steep drop-offs; allow two hours one-way. It is NOT an enjoyable experience; and I consider this round-trip drive a major "negative" of doing this county highpoint.

The final 0.9 mile (beyond the obvious saddle) is not passenger car suitable. High clearance mandatory and it is rocky.

Four wheeled vehicles are no longer allowed to park at the saddle north of Blacklead Mountain. One must park (as I did) atop the summit, so making for an extra one mile hiking round-trip.

The total elevation gain is 3,200 feet from the carpark atop Blacklead Mountain:

* 6,500 to 7,400 feet on ascent;
* 7,000 to 7,900 feet on ascent; (these total 1,800 feet)

* 7,000 to 7,400 feet on descent;
* 6,500 to 7,350 feet on descent; (these total 1,250 feet)

* 2 x 75 feet along the trail (150 feet).

A prescribed burn was in-progress, and I was just barely allowed to be there since at the saddle the road was blocked westbound but open eastbound (towards Blacklead Mountain). I arrived about 6 p.m. and was able to enjoy supper well before sundown since the smoke of the burn, only perhaps 1 1/2 air miles distant, largely hid the sun - turning it a fascinating orange and even red at times. This cooled the area to an extent that eating hot food was not problematic. That written, I believe that I enjoyed a cold meal anyway.

On return from the summit, and as I rounded the saddle just south of Williams Peak, I saw a helicopter land right next to my vehicle. This was alarming, and I began to conjure fantastic thoughts of what was wrong.

Well, I really rushed back to Blacklead Mountain despite the day's heat. On arrival I found the summit to be a staging area for firefighters to discuss the prescribed burn and make contingency plans. No worries - even talked to the chief describing my reasons for being there.

Some WGS84 coordinates -

Blacklead Mountain (46.63974° N, 114.85104° W) at 7,353 feet
begin trail at saddle (46.64632° N, 114.84789° W) at 7,108 feet

saddle south of Williams Peak (46.65240° N, 114.80154° W) at 7,424 feet
saddle immediately south of Rhodes Peak (46.66869° N, 114.78134° W) at 7,329 feet

Car to summit consumed 3 hours 11 minutes.
Saddle trailhead to summit consumed 2 hours 59 minutes.

Summit to car consumed 2 hours 58 minutes.
Car to car consumed 6 hours 37 minutes,
with the actual travel time 2 hours 45 minutes
for both the ascent and descent.